The desiccated lizard hangs lifeless on fence, impaled through the gut on a barbed-wire spike. A few meters away, a dead bee protrudes from another twist of metal.
Who killed them? And why? As it turns out, this real-life murder mystery has a surprising avian culprit: the shrike.
Also known as butcherbirds, loggerhead and northern shrikes leave a culinary horror show in their wake. Both species regularly impale prey — often still alive — on spikes, thorns, or barbed wire, and leave them there for days or weeks.
We dive into the fascinating story behind shrikes and their grisly table manners.
A Tale of Two Killers
If you’ve ever come across a small animal impaled on a spike, odds are it was killed by a shrike. But which species? There are two types of shrike in North America, the loggerhead shrike and the northern shrike.
Both species are remarkably similar: they’re about the size of a robin, with a dark, hooked bill, grey body, and black-and-white wings. Both birds also…

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